Elderly problems can involve a sudden need for elder caregivers or other help …Either from an outside source such as a senior home care service, or assisted living facilities. Or perhaps you. Are you ready?

But how do you really know if there’s a real problem. Or if it’s just normal aging? Our loved ones often exhibit unspoken signs of problems when they need help. Little clues.

And in helping with my Dad, I learned that those little clues can be very subtle. So I had to be very attentive. Yet not try to read too much into anything. It can be a real challenge.

Some of the most common clues that I’ve learned about that point to a need for elderly assistance are listed below. Some are more serious and will need to involve senior home care or elderly long-term care. Most seniors will eventually show some of these signs and elderly issues as they age.

If you notice any, talk openly with your elderly parent or loved one or consult a professional to work with you. And above all, do not try to do or figure out everything by yourself.

Being the list type of person that I am, that is my first reaction to any challenge or crisis. Make a list. Or many.

During my Dad’s time first in assisted living and then after he moved in with me, I have observed or experienced many elderly problems that need consideration. Maybe these lists will help you too.

Important Elderly Problems

Physical Clues

  • Noticeable change in weight (gain or loss).
  • Trouble getting out of a chair.
  • Tripping.
  • Complaints of dizziness.
  • Walking with unsteadiness.
  • Overly tired.
  • Incontinence odors (urine).
  • Overly thirsty.
  • Cannot see or read even with corrective lenses.
  • Constantly asking you to speak louder.
  • Asking the same questions too frequently.
  • Too many of the so-called senior moments.

Behavioral Clues

  • Odors from food spoilage.
  • Piles of dirty laundry.
  • Personal hygiene habits have changed.
  • Neatness or cleanliness of the home has changed.
  • The yard has become unkept.
  • Not enough food in the fridge.
  • Medications are not being taken correctly.
  • Getting lost in familiar places.
  • Stacks of unopened mail.
  • Bills are consistently not being paid.
  • Missing appointments.
  • Evidence of safety problems (ex. burns in clothing or cookware).

Elderly Depression Clues

  • Ceased socializing with other seniors or friends.
  • Very little contact with family members.
  • Not interested in conversation.
  • House is kept dark, including in the day.
  • Shade and curtains remain drawn.
  • Disinterest in senior activities previously enjoyed.
  • Sleeping more.
  • Weeping for no apparent reason.
  • Talk of wanting to end it all.

Some of these signs may actually be symptoms of the onset of dementia or Alzheimers. Or depression. It is vital that elderly people receive support as soon as possible. Caring for the elderly can be challenging.

But you need not be alone. There are many local, state and national public benefits with elderly assistance that can help you. And there may come a time when you need to consider whether your loved one needs home healthcare — read about caregiver duties; vs. long term care.

Assessing signs of elderly problems is a serious matter. Make sure you get professional help to pinpoint the real underlying elderly issues, and to help you and your loved one makes decisions about senior home care or possible elderly long-term care needs.

Be sure to also read:

Care of Elderly – Don’t Be Overwhelmed — Care of elderly calls for careful planning. But what steps do you take? Learn to make your best personalized plan.
Care For Elderly In Home – Tips and Ideas — Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning, whether a loved one is staying in their own home or moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Great tips and ideas – including having some fun!
Fundamentals of Caregiving — Information about typical caregiving, provided by either a senior home care service, assisted living, or nursing homes, even if temporarily. What to expect, what to ask caregivers, and possible sharing of caregiver duties.

to Elderly Health Care Issues

Elderly communication issues can take many forms. I’d had experience working with seniors before, but when Dad came to live with me at age 94, I was in for a few surprises.

There may be actual hearing loss involved (as with Dad). There may be the onset of dementia, which Dad did experience later. There may be depression. And there may personality traits to deal with… such as downright stubbornness. Or anger.

Some older people try to pretend that nothing is going on, nothing is wrong. Others complain frequently. It seems the lives of seniors are always changing in some way. Continuous change can be rough. It’s also rough on the caregiver and the family.

Regardless of the cause of difficulties, a crucial part of caregiver duties  is that caregivers, family members, even friends, learn to communicate as well as possible with our elderly. Their very well-being may depend on it. So does our own sanity.

Hearing Loss Issues

It is no secret that hearing loss as we age is one of the major challenges seniors face, to the point where is it almost epidemic. And hearing loss is one of the biggest contributors to elderly communication issues. My father experienced serious and sudden hearing loss, and I needed to learn to cope very quickly, as I was his primary caregiver.

Practical Solutions

As we age and changes occur, it is not always easy to understand someone or communicate well, as was the case with Dad. So I had to repeat and explain again (and again) as needed. I learned to speak loudly and slowly. Actually, in his case, it was annoying if we spoke too loudly. He had a very good hearing aid. It was clarity that was the issue. So speaking slowly and in a monotone was important.

Dealing with elderly communication issues that involve hearing loss can simply be a matter of finding practical solutions to every-day situations.  Care for elderly in home may require special adjustments. Dad had large-print phones with volume control, which he was able to basically hear. We put one in his bedroom, the sitting room, and in the main living room area. When family or friends called in, he was able to ramp up the volume and clarity control to talk to them. He also had a one-touch speed dial system for making outgoing phone calls. Raised buttons were adhered to certain numbers on the phone, for easy identification.

Selective Hearing and Understanding

Sometimes it is true that elderly cannot hear certain sound frequencies. Dad, in fact, misses whole chunks of conversation due to this. And he tries not to let on. You may need to try changing the tones of your voice, and it may be a matter of trial and error for awhile. It took months of trial for my kids to find a tone of voice that their grandfather could finally hear (somewhat).

I did finally learn, however, that often Dad would simply tune out what he was not interested in. He could certainly hear and understand more than he was letting on to. But he did not want us to know this, because he didn’t want to bother with certain things or be bothered by other things. So he just selectively tuned it out.

It was not necessarily a matter of being stubborn or lazy. It truly took a lot of concentration for him to listen. And he didn’t want to. But this sometimes became a real problem.

As understandable as this might be, I had to gently challenge him on it a few times. I did not want this to develop into a control game, especially in important matters.

I had to make sure, for instance, that he fully understood that (at age 96 1/2) the doctor insisted (and so did I) that he use his walker.  He would pretend he hadn’t heard this and simply did not use it. There came a point when I had to gently tell him that if he wanted to continue living here with me, he would have to use his walker (and follow other guidelines) so that I could continue to take care of him. That did it.

Background Noise

Another matter to be aware of with elderly communication issues, is that background noise becomes very bothersome and can interfere with hearing and responding. There are digital hearing aids available that can cut down on this. But it never did work for my Dad.

So be sure to understand whether background noise is going to be one of the elderly communication issues you and the one you’re caring for will be dealing with. Be aware of the environment you and your elderly are in.

Making sure only one person speaks at a time is important. I have even had to ask people to please stop talking for a moment. (After all, the gathering was for him). I could see Dad was trying to hear what someone was saying to him, and he was getting very frustrated.

Large social gatherings can be very challenging for many elderly people, rather than truly enjoyable. It is one of the situations my father dislikes the most. Most of the time he will not attend now. And only wants visitors for a half-hour.

Problems with Socializing

Dad’s hearing loss was so severe that he could not participate well in social activities. That is one of the reasons he moved in with me – it was almost impossible for him to socialize at his assisted living facility. Being around others was almost overwhelming. (He also has severe vision loss). Communicating with anyone except certain members of the family is still one of his major issues.

Elderly people may have preferences and desires …different from other family members. Those experienced in care of elderly know they can be set in their ways. Be sensitive to their feelings.

Any kind of change or stress can be difficult for them. They may become confused, depressed, frightened like Dad was; even angry. And sometimes unable to articulate  or appreciate your help.

Being Direct and Clear

Besides hearing loss and actual symptoms of dementia, confusion, inability to quickly process what is being said and done, and memory loss can all affect elderly communication issues. There is also the matter of personal pride. Many older people will pretend they know what it going on, even when they don’t. And there will be times when it is crucial that they do know.

With Dad, I have to specifically ask him if he understood what I said. And what I meant. Sometimes I have him repeat back to me, so I can be sure. He now knows I will do this with important things, (and trying to fool me will not work). But it has to be done in a very dignified and kind way, of course.

Even though our elderly may now be somewhat helpless, we do not want to treat them as a child. Once in awhile Dad would have confusion and truly almost seem like a child. But he certainly did not want me to respond to him as such! When working with elderly communication issues, we can strive to help them become as independent as possible.

Be sure to also read:

Signs of Elderly Problems — There are telling signs of elderly problems. Problems that are often hidden. It is crucial to learn to tell the signs for the health and safety of loved ones. This is also when knowing how to work with elderly communication issues is valuable.

Elderly Stress Issues — Needless to say, aging can add up to stress. Especially when many things are happening at once. It can be quite eye-opening.

to Care of Elderly

If you are a caregiver,
do you have an elderly help Plan?

Do you need a Plan? If you’re giving or needing elderly help for a loved one, you may surprised at what you’ll need to know about. I sure was. And, I learned, success is in the details.

Caregiving can come upon us suddenly like it did with our Dad. Or perhaps you were lucky and life gradually progressed along. No matter what the circumstances you are dealing with, from nutrition to senior activities, this page will help you quickly and methodically create a Plan, or hone your current one.

I’m a list person, so I make lists for everything. The checklists below may help you too. They encompass the main areas of caregiving – health care, safety, personal needs, social needs, and daily tasks and housekeeping.

This page has been developed to help you figure out the help you or your loved one may need. It involves detail, so a Plan will make it less stressful and more satisfying. You can get specific information about the various signs of elderly problems at the link.

If your loved one has been hospitalized, some of the decisions about elderly help will be made for you or with you by a health care professional or social services representative. You may be advised that they must move to assisted living or a nursing home, either temporarily or permanently.

Health Care:

A good elderly help Plan consists of first discovering and dealing with health care issues. These will also trigger lots of other needs. You will get information on some items below because of hospital stays or visits with elderly health care providers.

If you are caring for elderly parents, go with them to their medical appointments to make sure everything is understood correctly and can be carried out.

Make a list in advance of your questions and discussion items regarding your elderly help Plan and health concerns. Speak with the doctors yourself, and repeat back the information given.

Write it down so everyone is very clear about diagnosis and procedures. This eliminates confusion or misinterpretation by your loved one who may not hear or understand well.

Many elderly people will only cooperate if they hear information directly from their doctor. Find out what will work regarding care of elderly in-home. My Dad, for instance, had severe hearing and vision loss and is almost deaf and blind.

Here is a list of possible health concerns. When making your plan, remember to ask yourself:

Who, What, When, How.

Make sure medical appointments are up-to-date
___ Needs help setting and remembering appointments
___ Needs help getting to appointments
___ Medication reminders
___ Medication set up
___ Total medication management
___ Needs help picking up prescriptions
___ Shows signs of vision loss – needs vision aid
___ Shows signs of hearing loss – needs hearing aid
___ Needs special equipment – a walker, cane, wheelchair
___ Shows signs of incontinence
___ Needs foot care
___ Needs ear cleaning care
___ Needs regular exercise
___ Has frequent bruising or sores
___ Skin tone has obvious changes
___ Pre- or post-surgery care
___ Wound care
___ Skin condition care
___ Loss of appetite
___ Daily “I’m OK” check-in
___ Talk to a health care social worker about resources for help
___ Talk to a social worker, state or county about public benefits and aid.
___ Understand Medicare and Medicaid guidelines for aid
___ If the elderly was a veteran, talk to the VA about aid
___ Ask any professional helping you about elderly assistance
___ Other

Safety:

A strong elderly help Plan includes many safety issues, some that result from health problems. Seniors often try to fiercely maintain their independence. They may not even mention they are having problems. They may only leave subtle clues that something has happened.

When it was time for Dad to move in with me, safety measures were of primary importance. But we really had to watch and pick his brain to discover exactly to what extent. It is important to be observant especially about frequent forgetfulness, otherwise you may never know what is really going on.

Here are some of the safety issues that may need attention.

___ Not able to use stairs
___ Frequently trips
___ Trips on carpet or other flooring – no longer safe
___ Falls that cause injuries
___ Has more bruising or sores
___ Slips in bathroom, at either tub or toilet
___ Needs walker or cane
___ Causes cooking accidents or fires
___ Forgets to turn off stove or water
___ Remove or unplug stove and oven
___ Remove or unplug microwave
___ Monitor age of food in refrigerator
___ Forgets to lock doors or close windows
___ Does not regulate temperature in home
___ Causes spills
___ Forgets where he/she is in familiar places
___ No longer safe to drive
___ Needs emergency response device or pendant
___ Other

Personal Needs:

All facets of an elderly help Plan require sensitivity to personal dignity. And patience. As we age, daily personal routines and grooming tasks become more difficult or even impossible.

Elderly people who had been used to taking care of others, now find themselves needing help with basic daily tasks. This is a sensitive issue when caring for elderly parents. It can cause embarrassment to them. And maybe to you.

Being very honest, understanding and supportive is the best way. There are many solutions that allow caring for the elderly in-home, and outside help from a home healthcare service may be needed. Review the list below and add any additional areas for elderly help.

___ Cannot transfer from chair or bed or toilet
___ Bathing assistance
___ Buttoning help
___ Dressing help
___ Putting on shoes or tying shoes
___ Shaving, washing, brushing teeth
___ Toenail clipping and foot grooming
___ Other grooming needs
___ Toileting assistance
___ Needs special incontinence products

Social Needs:

An elderly help Plan also must include social needs and various senior activities. This can be a vital part of any healing process. You can imagine that the changes mentioned above can have a huge impact on the elderly person psychologically.

One of the reasons Dad moved in with me rather than stay in assisted living is because due to his hearing and vision loss, it was impossible for him to socialize or participate in groups. He could not see who he was talking to and so could not recognize or identify anyone who came up to him. Nor could he understand much of what they were saying.

Health and nutrition issues can cause changes to healthy brain processes too, and can cause confusion and depression. You can find help available through a health care provider familiar with care of elderly. A strong social support system is an important factor in dealing with elderly issues. Here are some items to review for social needs.

___ Lost interest in former hobbies and activities
___ Little conversation with friends and family
___ Needs scheduled social activities
___ Needs escort or transportation to activities
___ Enroll in Adult Day Care programs
___ Help with hobbies
___ May need books on tape if reading is difficult
___ May enjoy being read to
___ Need help with computer activities
___ Join senior center and activities
___ Participate in community meals at senior center
___ Arrange for in-home senior companion visits
___ Plan an exercise program, especially with others

Daily Tasks and Housekeeping:

The care of elderly may also require a new approach to handling everyday tasks. Watch for signs of problems and assist your loved one in developing a system. Providing elderly help in these areas can give immediate relief. Remember to ask – Who, What, When, How.

___ Laundry piles up – needs help
___ Clothing needs mending
___ Help cleaning house
___ Remove trash
___ Getting mail from mailbox
___ Reading mail
___ Paying bills
___ Pest control
___ Regulating temperature of home
___ Opening and closing windows for fresh air
___ Eliminating odors in home
___ Sorting and eliminating unnecessary junk
___ Sorting old paperwork
___ Downsizing and simplifying possessions

Be sure to also read:

Care For Elderly In Home – Tips and Ideas — Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning, whether a loved one is staying in their own home or moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Here are some great tips and ideas to consider, including having some fun!

to Care of Elderly

Fun and effective elderly stress activities are an important part of overall senior care. And can help give relief and distraction from burdens that befall the aging. As caregiver, I did several of these with my own father, in his late 90s, and they certainly did help take his mind off his worries.

Dad was very patient, despite being almost blind and deaf, and having difficulty socializing.  I could always tell when he had concerns. Instead being his normal cheerful self, he would blurt out, “It’s hell getting old!” I had to come up with lots of different ways to help him.

NOTE:  Some seniors are introverts and need special and/or gentle urging to participate in some elderly stress activities. Others may have become lethargic and will need a bit of urging. Effective elderly stress activities involve several factors – physical, emotional, creative, mental, and spiritual needs.

It’s always important to consult the medical professional as needed, if there is a question about any stress relief activities.

And you may find some of these ideas are great for caregivers too, as care of elderly can sometimes be overwhelming.

Keeping these factors in mind, this page will summarize some effective ideas (and not just squeezing rubbery stress balls, which come in such shapes as cupcakes, golf balls, and cartoon faces). Or working on puzzles. We’ll also link you to other pages for more details.

TLC and Contact With Others

First, we’ll start with some typical stress busters. I found that any types of elderly stress activities that provide a little TLC (and especially physical contact) were very enjoyable for Dad.

First, here are the usual…

*  Holding and playing with great-grandkids.

*  Petting a pet that a friend or family member brought over.

*  Dad always smiled when I helped him shave (with an electric shaver). It made him feel pampered.

*  Foot and hand care – a local nurse in town makes home visits that includes a foot soak, trimming toenails and fingernails, and a foot and hand massage. Dad loved it!

*  An easy hand reflexology treatment – I’ve included a basic hand reflexology chart on that page. Just about anyone can do it.

*  His routine haircut. Just something as basic as that helped him de-stress.

*  We also did regular deep breathing together. When you count while doing this, it takes more focus, so you don’t think about something else.  Count for 4 seconds while breathing in, holding breath, breathing out, holding breath. Depending on a person’s health, you may need to consult a medical professional first.

Fun and Games

Games and laughter, of course, help with stress. We do have a thorough page about elderly games. But in addition to that, here are a few more fun elderly stress activities.

*  Desktop punching ball – you can turning punching into a small game!

*  Creating, maintaining or watching an aquarium. Retirement campuses sometimes have these, and so-called aquarium therapy is a known stress reliever. Just sitting and watching one is meditative and calming and can reduce blood pressure and pulse rate. Purdue University did a study with aquariums and Alzheimer patients, showing that patients became more alert and quiet.

*  Desk or table-top games –  golf putting game, bowling, magnetic dart board, mini pool table, or “flick” hockey. (These are games with small objects, so would work only for those with good eye and finger dexterity.)

*  Magnetic sculptures involve different magnetic metal shapes, sometimes in various colors, that can be stacked together in endless creative ways. Again, some of these may include small pieces, although they do come in various sizes.

*  Working with the earth, plants and flowers are excellent elderly stress activities –- raised or potted gardens are perfect. Especially if it’s something you can eat later, like tomatoes or strawberries. There’s something about feeling one’s hands in the earth that is so therapeutic. Or the grass under one’s feet. Placing feet in a water feature such as a pool or stream also feels great.

*  Growing a bonsai tree – you can get them in kits with instructions. This project takes some care (and perhaps a little help), so offers a fascintating ongoing activity.

Tactile Activities

These types of elderly stress activities can be done while listening to music, chatting, or even watching a good movie on TV. Many engage several senses and distract the mind.

*  Running sand through the fingers. Potted plants and flowers can be spaced apart in a box of sand. When people come to tend to the plants, weed them, snip off dead leaves and blooms, they also love to run their fingers in the sand. Sometimes flowers that have fallen off their stems are laid in the sand to decorate.

*  Slowly swishing hands in water or bubbles.

*  Feeling something soft like plush velvet or wrapping up in fluffy fleece or soft angora.

*  Working with clay, especially if it will be fired to complete a satisfactory project.

*  Sanding wood (with no slivers), feeling it get smoother and smoother is therapeutic. This is a great one for those who liked to work with their hands, build things, and use tools. I actually used to love doing this with Dad when I was a child. Because this activity can produce sawdust, a mask is advised.

*  Polishing or oiling wood until it gleams is a favorite “old-time” elderly stress activity for some.

*  Others like to polish silverware until it shines.

*  My grandma used to love to shell peas, feeling the little round peas slide through her fingers. She would do bowls of them. She also used to enjoy sitting at the table chopping vegetables and listening to music or chatting.

*  Knitting or crocheting may be someone’s favorite hobby, yet they just don’t feel like doing it. (Have you ever felt like that?) But doing a project for someone else, like joining a group that makes prayer shawls, might get them out of a slump.

 *  Likewise, joining a quilting group for a cause can be relaxing because of the goal and camaraderie too.

*  Rug hooking is another tactile activity that is easy, yet involves just enough concentration to distract from stress. There are loads of kits available in craft stores.

*  How about good ole washing dishes with plenty of bubbles in the sink. Many folks find this to be another pleasant and nostalgic activity. My grandmother used to love to wash dishes. It allowed her to do something with her hands and daydream at the same time. Now and then I also find it relaxing. (And in fact, I actually enjoy doing housework when I need to de-stress. It’s good physical activity and keeps me from thinking too much).

*  Folding laundry was one of Dad’s favorite tasks to help me with. He loved the fresh smell, the feel of the fabric, and took his time folding each piece very carefully.

*  Finger painting is not just for kids! (But it certainly be done along with them). It’s also one of the simple yet creative elderly stress activities – in fact, some quite sophisticated art work can be made. Feeling soft, flowing paint between the fingers and watching trails of color slide across a piece of paper makes a really fun project. Colors also can be blended together while painting to make new colors. This is especially fun for those with no “artistic ability” because there is no such thing as good or bad or making a mistake – just fun. 

Be sure to cover the table with newspaper and wear a cover-up!. Either finger paint or poster paint can be used, adding a little water to the painting as needed, so it moves well on the paper. Paint can be put into muffin tins. We used to paint on butcher paper or freezer paper as kids.

When dry, linear designs and details can be added with colored markers if desired. Try hanging the finished product(s) all together mural style. Or flatten under books, then laminate and used as place mats; perhaps laminate and cut into strips for bookmarks.

Of course, there are many other arts and craft ideas that are great elderly stress activities. Take a look at our section for Easy Craft Ideas.

More Miscellaneous

Here are a few more random stress soothers…

*  Aromatherapy. Various scents (using real essential oils when possible) do calm the nerves, such as lavender, rose, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, sage, and vanilla. Dad and I enjoyed having a tray with a variety of scents and would take turns inhaling the various fragrances, sometimes guessing what they were, talking about them, and about what memories came to mind from them.

Other elderly stress activities involving aroma would be scented candles (which do come flameless – I have a lovely one in vanilla); diffusers; hand, neck and/or shoulder massage with scented oils; taking a warm bath with scented oils or bubble bath; making a lavender pillow or potpourri.

*  Music and mood. I’m sure you’re aware that certain kinds of music are real stress releasers. But we’ve found some very interesting information about this topic, so do check out our page on Health, Music and Mood.

*  Good old times.  Looking through photo albums and talking about good old times and having a few laughs. (However, depending on the person and situation of course, this can sometimes backfire and cause sadness or distress instead).

*  A Japanese zen sand garden is a lovely and soothing tabletop pastime. You can purchase one in a kit or make one yourself. It usually includes a shallow wooden box filled with a thick layer of fine sand, some smooth pebbles of various sizes that can be rearranged over and over, and a small rake with which to created designs in the sand. Flowers to lay upon the sand design is another add-on option. This provides lots of hand-eye activity and is very calming.

*  Calming crystals. Sometimes a person just feels like sitting around and not doing anything in particular. There are some elderly stress activities that are really good for this. For instance, many years ago one of my sons started giving me crystal snowflake ornaments for Christmas. (But any kind of a faceted crystal-like or glass object will do). They are so beautiful I hang them in my window off-season and watch the sun glint and blaze through the facets, changing colors and also make rainbow patterns on the wall. It’s a nice distraction, is meditational and calms the spirit.

*  Inexpensive “Shopping Therapy” is a favorite pastime for many, and a reason to get out. For those on a budget, browsing at a thrift store, flea market or a few garage sales will do the trick. I like to find something to bring home and turn into a project – making  picture frame crafts, painting on glass (see our page on how to paint glass), doing something seasonal, or making a gift for someone. Finding ways to give to others is often a sure-fire way to dissolve one’s stress. 

*  Relaxation room.  Perhaps you can set up a little room or part of a room with a window and some sunshine, filled with a few uplifting things like a couple very comfy chairs, footstools, colorful coffee table books to browse through, plants, flowers, hanging crystals, a table-top zen garden, a puzzle, a small water element or fountain, even a bird cage if possible.

*  “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a great book by Richard Carlson, Ph.D.  Sometimes it is true that stress can be self-created. Ever heard of this book series? (And the author thinks just about everything is small stuff when we think big-picture). He truly teaches how to relax. I have a couple of the books on hand and pull them out from time to time as needed. They really help regain perspective. These are also nice books to read to someone – I read one to my Dad since he is unable to see, and he loved it. (Reading to someone is one of our most relaxing elderly stress activities).

Dr. Carlson believes that if we do things for others and take a little attention off of ourselves, we receive more kindness back too, which helps melt stress away. Even saying a few kind words to another, assisting someone with a simple task, giving a compliment, helps them (and us) feel better just about instantly.

Speaking of helping others, if you’re looking for volunteer ideas to enhance your life, be sure to click the link to visit our page.

Or perhaps you’re interested in finding a hobby that will add a little pizzazz to life.  A hobby (particularly one that can bring in a little extra money) is an excellent way to redirect the mind.

An important part of our elderly health care is to find ways to help relieve the ongoing burdens that cause stress. We have dozens of pages on our web site with helpful hints and more elderly stress activities. Here are a few…

How To Get Happy; Top Hints – When we feel overwhelmed and stressed out we might wonder if we’ll ever get back to being happy again. We’ve discovered lots of expert advice (and some of our own) to share.
Exercise for Seniors – And its links to other pages about t’ai chi for seniors, yoga, and Spring Forest Qigong (one of my favorites). Swimming and walking, as you probably know, are two top, easy ways to exercise. We all know that exercise is one of the best elderly stress activities there is.
Senior Activity Ideas – There are so many more ideas on our web site that can serve as elderly stress activities, so do check out this section too.


to Elderly Health Care

Issue for seniors can come suddenly, without warning

Care of elderly is very likely something you may be very involved with at some point, as I am now — for your family, or even friends. You may care for your spouse. Or if you are a baby boomer like me, an elderly parent, or perhaps a sibling as you age. Quality caregiving, as you may know, is one of the major elderly issues.

If you haven’t thought caregiving through ahead of time, you may become overwhelmed. Our family thought we had pretty much thought it all through. But unforeseen things do come up. (Like Dad actually moving in with me, at age 94). But you will find that there are many options available, whether it be the fundamentals of caregiving for home health care, or a long term care community.

But first, you need to get prepared for what may be ahead. There are many different factors and scenarios, of course, but here we’ll provide a few guidelines to consider. And many of them from very personal experience.

Care of Elderly Information

Caregiving reaches into many areas, including memory loss, so the best plan should be efficient and detailed. Thank heavens I’m a detail nut, so planning this through came more easily to me than it might to some. Although sometimes the need for elderly assistance comes on gradually, it can also be quite sudden, leaving everyone in somewhat of a tailspin.

Dad, for instance, lost a great deal of his eyesight almost over night. His macular degeneration suddenly caused a lot of bleeding in his eye. And he was alone down in Arizona. Suddenly he could not read the labels on food packaging or figure out what was in the grocery store, much less get to it. We had to rush to his aid and move him back here with family.

You may already have some guidance…or not. We can help. Including if you’re needing lots of senior activity ideas. The first thing to remember is…

Just don’t try to do it all yourself!

(I almost made that mistake — thinking I could Do It All — wrong!) There are many excellent professionals in various aspects of caregiving who have devoted their careers to this and who are available to help you. (In fact, you may find out you enjoy it too, and may consider it yourself).

Communicating

Care of the elderly requires patience and understanding. Their lives are changing. They may not be able to understand or communicate effectively. There are many elderly communication issues that occur, many of which I have experienced first-hand with Dad. So I’ve written a separate page about it, with my ideas.

Be sure to call on other family members (including kids!), professionals, state and country resources, and perhaps neighbors or friends to help. And when necessary, do seek lots of advice from those who specialize in care of elderly.

No doubt about it — you will need help. No one is any good to anyone else when burned out. To prepare a plan, I first had to ask myself the basic questions,

Who…What…When…How…

These, of course, are standard for almost any problem solving in life. It makes things easier if we also keep these four questions in mind when making our plan for the care of elderly. (I share some of my ideas on our page on Elderly Help – Making a Plan,) — maybe they can help you too.

Home Healthcare Information

One of the important elderly issues to consider is where caregiving will take place. Most families want to try to maintain care for elderly in-home as long as possible. We found this to be far more cost-efficient. With some thinking through. As you make your plan and review our items in the Making a Plan page (see link above), think of ways this can be done.

With care of elderly, staying in one’s home is more familiar and usually more comforting — and we found it to be much less expensive. Bring in help from family and friends. Even so, you may find you need outside assistance. Even though I am able to take care of Dad myself (so far), I know anything could come up at any time to change this. This brings up many questions about care of elderly:

Care of elderly in-home is usually more affordable than the monthly fees in an assisted living facility or nursing home.

You may also find it valuable to hire the services of a licensed geriatric care manager (a nurse or social worker who specializes in care of elderly), especially if you live far away from the person who needs care. We almost did this in order to have Dad stay at home in Arizona, but being almost deaf and blind, it would have been too confusing for him. So check out all options and compare expenses.

Most elderly problems are related to health: physical, mental and emotional. Our above-mentioned pages on the fundamentals of caregiving can help you sort out what you need to know about caregiver duties, home healthcare providers, and types of long term care.

More about care of elderly:

Care For Elderly In Home – Tips and Ideas — Care for elderly in home takes a lot of planning, whether a loved one is staying in their own home or moving in with someone else (perhaps you). Here are some great tips, including having some fun!


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Finding activities for elderly with vision loss can certainly be a challenge, but they can also be quite creative. I became caregiver for my Dad and had to learn. Fast.

These types of activities for seniors were challenging to find. Dad had both serious vision and hearing loss, and I had also working with others. I had to quickly create and gather some good ideas. Dad became willing to try just about anything to alleviate boredom. Especially if useful.

Dad’s vision loss was not total, but it was severe due to advanced macular degeneration, which is very common.  He was at first able to make many interesting adjustments for himself, and successfully lived alone until age 93 ½ until it became too severe. He especially needed contrast and strong lighting, which is very important for activities for elderly involving vision loss.

See our page on macular degeneration helpour family’s tips for daily life. Every state in the U.S. has free programs for people with vision loss. We participated in these, and a rep came to our home to set things up, bring free equipment and gifts, and they also offer free training and activities for elderly to manage life more independently.

On that page we discuss using large print items, a reading machine, books on tape, TV Ears earphones, a huge screen TV (even of value to Dad), listening to music, being read to and narrated to, etc. These include ongoing activities that a person can do somewhat independently when you’re not around. So we will not cover those basic types of activities for elderly on this page.

We will also not discuss working with their hands and continuing hobbies that people may already know how to do. But learning a new hobby might be a good possibility, and you can see if any work for you from our page at finding a hobby.

Other Factors

The type of activities for elderly that you choose will depend on other factors too – firstly, how severely their vision has been affected; to what degree they can see, if at all. Also, their ability and mobility levels, how active they generally are, use of hands, use of other senses (i.e., hearing and touch), as well as mental clarity. You can see which ideas will work for you, and how you might change them to suit your needs.

Most of these activities are geared towards those who have at least a little vision remaining and are not totally blind.

We’ll also point you to other areas of our web site with more elderly activities that might be suitable, with extra help of course. Other senses — hearing, smell and touch can come into play. Dad became very adept at feeling with his hands.

Several of these activities for elderly will depend upon whether you are visiting someone at a care campus, in their home, or if you’re doing the project at your own home. So think of what you might be able to do to modify them accordingly.

It does take patience to find and do activities for elderly who have vision loss, and to assist those you care for to stay busy. But it does help keep boredom to a minimum. And it’s satisfying and very much appreciated. Plus, you’ll have some fun too.

We’ll include both useful activities, and those just for fun.

Vision Loss Activities For Elderly

Just For Fun

Whether you’re helping someone at home or at a campus, see which of these activities for elderly are suitable for you. And remember that kids also enjoy helping  elderly with a little fun as well! 

A perfect game to do with young children is to fit large puzzle type shapes (including alphabet letters) into their holes, as this is an activity by touch. Verbal word and guessing games are also a hit. (You can also check out our page about more elderly activities to do with kids).

If you’re interested in crafts – We have many crafts on our site to try out. Of course, elderly with vision loss probably will not be able to do them on their own, but those with moderate loss can certainly participate in making aspects of the craft and putting it together, either with a class, with family, or friends.

Take a look at our “craft central” page at Easy Craft Ideas and see what might work for you. Crafts are some of the most favorite activities for elderly, and those with vision loss can participate in many of them at some level.

A favorite craft, for instance, is working with those lumpy, bumpy gourds which can be turned into imaginative characters and creatures. In many parts of the country, different kinds of squashes and gourds can be found in grocery stores throughout the year.

Elderly with vision loss will be able to feel the interesting textures. These crafts make interesting activities for elderly who rely on touch. Dad was also able to see the basic colors and unusual shapes of the gourds. As he helped me decorate them, although he didn’t see many of the details, he could detect basics. We put them on display, and he enjoyed telling people how he helped. Get lots of ideas at Gourd Craft Ideas. They can be decorated for just about any holiday or occasion that you can imagine.

Watching Birds – Activities for elderly can also involve movement. If you can get a bird feeder or bird bath very close to a window like we did, and have a comfy chair near the window, many people may be able to see well enough to watch the birds come and go, can see general shapes, sizes and movement, can watch them hop about, and flutter; as well as hear them chirping. This can provide relaxing entertainment on one’s own, once set up. Dad was able to see out the window at a feeder and bird bath that were set up very near, and loved to spend time watching them.

Learning bird calls – Several activities for elderly with vision loss can involve other senses such as hearing. There are many CDs and other audio means available, including from the library or books on tape, to listen to and identify various bird calls.

This can be done on one’s own, as operating a listening device can be quite simple. Later, elderly can be taken for an outing to a park or preserve, and it’s fun for them to use their new skill. Also, if they are watching birds in the yard or at their window, they can practice identifying bird calls.

More sounds – Spending a little time each day listening to sounds from nature (from the library, store or perhaps books on tape) on an audio device is a very relaxing and independent activity. Those who have spent time by the sea or the Great Lakes would enjoy ocean sounds, as well as a bubbling brook. Again, chirping birds along with crickets, frogs and such, are other fun sounds. You can also get noises of trains and city streets for those who are used to the urban life. 

Learn to meditate – I do this every day myself. There are many methods to choose from, and simple meditation is great for the heart and nervous system, is calming, and promotes a more positive attitude. Any activities for elderly that help with calmness and contentment are valuable. And there are so many meditation techniques, and many are on CDs or listening devices.

Anyone can learn, including from a teacher (who can even come to a campus and teach or volunteer with a small group) or with audio instruction. Or have an outing and take your elderly loved one to a class with you. Even simply sitting comfortably, doing deep breathing, and focusing on one’s breath is effective. Once learned, it is a pleasant way to pass time on one’s own. Dad does a lot of contemplation every day, and it’s partly why he has such a calm, wonderful attitude.

A little pampering – Just about everyone still cares about how they look and also enjoys being a bit pampered. So why not do both and offer an occasional time block of spa-like relaxation. These activities for elderly are much appreciated and also calming.This is a good project for volunteers (older kids and teens are very good at this) and family members to help with. Here are a few ideas…

Dad loves to have someone come and give him a bubbly foot bath (one of those little electric devices from any store), a lotion foot massage and hand massage, and toenail and fingernail clipping (when possible). He also loves to have my brother give him an electric shave (to touch up what he does himself). And always looks forward to his haircut.

Ladies enjoy not only getting their hair done, but also a manicure, (I know a feisty group that loves to have really bright nail polish, have a little flower painted on a nail or two, or rhinestone put into the nail polish too). They may or may not be able to see all the detail, perhaps color, but they know the manicurist is giving them something especially artistic. Again, perfect for teens to help with.

Pedicures are another favorite. A make-up makeover is fabulous too. All of these pampering activities for elderly people really help boost morale. And if they have a group party, special dinner or occasion to go to later, all the more fun.

Being read to – Dad loved it when I read him books, the bible, the newspaper, and the medical newsletter he gets in the mail. When he was in assisted living, there were also volunteers who would read to the residents on a regular basis, as well as students and scouts that would come over from local schools to visit, including to read. If a child doesn’t quite know what to do while visiting someone, reading to them is usually most welcome. Activities for elderly that help stimulate the mind and memory keep them alert and interested in life.

Metal detecting – Yes, this can be done by elderly with some vision loss, including from a wheelchair. And the sound of successfully finding metal is exciting! We had an expert contribute to a special page all about this. Go to Treasure Hunting With Metal Detectors.

Fingerpainting with kids – Since touch is an important asset to those with vision loss, the feel of moving luscious fingerpaint around on paper is really lovely. If you use contrasting colors such as blue and yellow, most people will be able to generally tell what they’re doing. Plus, doing an art project with children is in itself delightful and helps entertain them as well.

Painting – I know as an artist and former art teacher, that if anyone has a moderate amount of vision loss, they can still paint. Especially if someone has painted in the past. They needn’t stop, just adjust their style perhaps; and people can learn it as a new activity as well. Painting activities for elderly are expressive art, rather than something realistic.

Painting can be done with both a brush or a palette knife, especially if they had painted in the past. And if you lay the paint on thickly, it is also textural and can be felt as well as seen when dry.

All you need are inexpensive canvas boards (or small stretched canvases) from a craft store, basic colors of acrylic paints (be sure you get colors that go well together, with both lights and darks because contrast is easier to see), some larger sized brushes, and a couple palette knives. I always just use plastic picnic plates as my palette, with a couple layers of damp paper towel on top to keep the paint moist, then I squirt the paint on the palette. You can also just use the paint directly from right out of the tube if you’d prefer.

Put on some music, and let it inspire the movements of your brush and/or knife. Music coupled with art are inspiring activities for elderly. With moderate vision loss, the painter can still see where the paint is going, and can detect the contrasting colors (although probably not the full detail of how it looks). Paints may mix together on your canvas as you go, creating interesting new colors and effects. The point is expression and doing a pleasing activity. One person can do a few, or do it with a group, and consider putting them on display afterwards. A display of paintings done by visually impaired artists really does make a statement.

Working with clay – Any type of art project that can be felt makes great activities for elderly with vision loss. Clay is a favorite. Take a ball of clay, plunge the thumbs into the middle and carefully feel as you pinch and thin out the sides forming a little pot. It takes focus and is fun. It can be done in a group or solo. An instructor or activities director can also help coach on how thick or thin to make the walls of the pot, because when they’re the right thickness, they can then be fired.

Most towns have a pottery class, or a school with a kiln and may be willing to help the participants glaze and fire their pots when dry. Or just play around with hobby clay from a craft store for fun. Again, kids will love to play along.

Dipping chocolate – Who doesn’t love chocolate. We have lots of ideas on how to make dipping chocolate the easy way, and they’re wonderful activities for elderly. My Dad was perfectly able to help me with this, especially using white chocolate on the very large dark pretzel sticks, because of the contrasting colors. But he also helped with traditional brown chocolate too, and did fine. After dipping, he could add candy sprinkles. The best part, of course, was after the chocolate set, he could eat what he made.

The other favorite was learning how to make chocolate covered strawberries.  Both projects can be done just about any time of year, but especially for holidays and special occasions.

Help with a centerpiece – We have a page that shows many ideas for  affordable centerpieces that can be changed out for just about any occasion or time of year. Perfect when having a party or get-together too. These are projects that participants will probably not be able to do alone, but can certainly contribute to the making of.

Helping with parties and gifts – These also help people contribute to activities being planned by family or senior campuses. If you are using crepe paper streamers, elderly can certainly learn by feel to crimp along the edges of the streamers so they’re fancy. Likewise, they can help create paper chains (which kids also love to do).

When wrapping gifts, Dad was able to do them himself by feel (and for us, perfection just did not matter). At least our elderly can help put on the tape and tie the ribbons and bows. There are many more vision loss activities for elderly that you’ll be able to think of when it comes to entertaining and parties. (We’ll also list a few fun food projects below).

Being Useful

If you’re familiar with care of elderly, many folks do still desire something meaningful to do; something with which they can contribute. Dad’s favorites include working with food and daily tasks. With some of the projects you’ll need to be on hand to set up and/or supervise.

Sorting foods – Sometimes I actually “set up” a sorting activity for Dad. (And this can be something you bring along if visiting, because it truly can be a help to you, and activity for elderly).  For example, if I was making a soup with pasta or various beans, I buy (or put together) a large bag of assorted sizes and shapes of the items.

Say pasta. Thoroughly washing hands is the first step. I then provide 4 or 5 containers at the table, so he can feel and take out the items in the bag and place them in their containers. Sometimes the sizes and shapes are more subtle, so he enjoys taking his time to figure it out. Especially the beans. He can sometimes tell if the bean is dark or white, and that would help.

We also do sorting with large bags of those pre-cut veggie mixes: broccoli, baby carrots, cauliflower, etc. Those are also fun. Cauliflower, being white, is easy to identify.

Grating – Grating from a block of cheese, a large thick carrot, parsnip or turnip, large beet, potato, etc. is another good activity – and you’ll have to decide if it’s right your you. You’ll need to watch (and instruct) that they need to stop grating before the item gets too small so that fingers are not hurt. Dad is extremely careful by nature and can always tell when to stop, so it’s never been a problem. But it’s important to be watchful anyway.

Making smoothies – Delicious and healthy as well! This is a quick project to do, very easy, with a fun outcome! All you need is a blender, food processor, or extractor. And your ingredients.  If you are visiting someone, you may be able to bring the machine to their residence, along with the ingredients (which can be simple). It also provides a yummy snack to share while there. 

I give Dad a banana to break into little pieces and drop in, and have him fill a cup or half a cup with berries of some sort (frozen are OK). I also may have him peel a (seedless) tangerine or orange and break it into sections. Whatever works for you. He dumps it all into the blender. I measure out the milk, almond milk, or juice, and he add it in.

Sometimes we add a little ice cream. He likes yoghurt, although I don’t. Sometimes we add a scoop of natural protein powder from the health food store. He presses the button for the blender, and I signal when he turns it off. (He also likes any activity that makes some noise that he can hear, since he also has severe hearing loss). Then we drink up and enjoy!

Preparing fruit – Pieces of fruit are used in all kinds of recipes, many which make great activities for elderly with vision losee. Helping with fruit (along with healthy nibbling) are great activities for elderly to help pass time and be useful. Obviously, anyone with vision impairment should not be handling a sharp knife. But breaking fruit into chunks or using a table knife is fine.

When I make a pie, fruit cobbler, or fruit or apple crisp, Dad can help. I do the preliminary cutting of the apples, for instance, into basic slices. But they can be further broken into smaller pieces, either by hand or with a dull table knife. He can also help add other ingredients into the bowl, place the fruit into the shell or pan, etc. And the aroma while baking is part of the fun.

Since Dad had been an excellent cook and had many collections of recipes, we often use his and talk about them while we make it. It’s amazing how he remembers just what to do. He also enjoys talking about the get-togethers he’d had with friends and family when serving his recipes. Good for the memory.

Making ice cream – This follows the same system of helping as above as far as helping to add in ingredients. If you use one of those easy electric ice cream makers that take almost no time for it to freeze, it’s a no-brainer. Dad also enjoys this one since he can hear the noise or the machine. Be sure to see our special page on How To Make Ice Cream – The Easy Way. Some of the recipes are my Dad’s – he was champ at homemade ice cream.

Rolling and cutting dough – These are activities for elderly that some can do by feel with perhaps a little assistance. Almost everyone has used a rolling pin in life, and remembers what to do. Plus, it feels nice in the hands. Form the ball of dough, put it down and pat it, and start rolling. It’s easy to feel how thick or thin the dough is getting, but this is where a little help can come in.

After the caregiver puts the dough in a pie pan and trims it, your elderly helper can gently crimp the edges. Helping to bake bread (especially with one of those electric bread makers that just about does it all) along with the aroma is also wonderful.

Or maybe you’re making cookies (again, great aroma). Using a cookie cutter is also easy, and Dad could tell by feel where to place and space it for the next cut. He can also place the dough on the cookie sheet. And, naturally, removed after baking (to eat).

Grinding coffee beans – We love to make fresh coffee. And that means grinding our own beans, which makes the room smell delicious for a long time. This is another project you’ll have to use your own judgment on, as it does involve a grinder with blades. However, since a small measuring cup is used for the beans, and the ground coffee is just poured out without touching anything, it has never posed a problem for us.

It’s something Dad is very confident with, can see well enough to tell what he is doing, and is very careful. And I am always right there. You will have to assess this for yourself.

We always review the steps before beginning, including to not touch the grinder (except to dump it out); only the coffee beans and measuring cup get touched. I set up a bowl with the beans, a scoop, the grinder next to it, and the container to put the ground coffee into. It’s a very simple process, and again, makes a noise loud enough for Dad to enjoy.

Other food activities – There are many other activities for elderly folks centered around helping with food and cooking; things most of them had been so used to as part of daily life. These can include stirring and even mixing with an electric mixer, washing items in the sink or a bowl at the table, mashing, crumbling, and crushing with a rolling pin. Helping to squeeze lemons and oranges (and then drinking the beverages made from them) is an upbeat project. With any of these, the smells, feel of the utensils and food, and familiar routines are very positive experiences.

Helping with the dishes — Many of us are so used to sticking everything into the dishwasher, hat it may not occur to us that our elderly like to help with dishes. My nearly blind grandmother in her 90s loved drying non-breakable dishes with a dish towel. The family set up a system of hand washing some, and putting them in a dish rack in the sink. Then she would dry them and set them on the adjoining counter to be put away. Perhaps it took a bit more work on the family’s part, but it was worth it.

Polishing — Dad also likes to sit at the table with a soft cloth and polish the silverware before I put it on the table when we had people over. I explained that this removed any water spots or smudges on them. Totally necessary? No, but the point is, he finds it very enjoyable. He can also fold the napkins and put them in napkin holders when we used them.

Sorting and folding – These activities for elderly are also often used with dementia patients. Folding laundry is a favorite for Dad, and he loves the fresh smell. I make sure to have folding activities several times a week: clothing of all kinds and towels. He even helps me fold large sheets. All of his socks are the same, so he can take them out of the basket and pair them with no problem.

Dad can see the difference between darks and lights, but not between colors; i.e., browns vs. blacks, vs. navy blues, vs. dark grays. If we’re dealing with both black and navy socks, I’ll have to sort those into different piles for him first, and then he pairs and folds. With undergarments, he could feel where the tags are and know if they’re inside out or not. As you may know with vision issues, consistency is important — including a place for everything, so they can be put away (and found) with ease.

Gardening and growing – Some of the most favorite vision loss activities for elderly also involve plants and flowers. Helping with a raised garden, flowers and herbs in planters and pots, is perfect for nice weather months. But windowsill gardens are also excellent all year round. Dad can feel and eventually somewhat see how big the seedlings and plants are getting. You can get indoor tomato and strawberry plants as well, for something to “harvest” – eat. Anything edible is a real hit.

Flower kits are another provide wonderful activities too. We especially love to grow those spectacular amaryllis flower kits (available in stores in December), where you can literally watch and measure growth daily.

Dad also enjoys helping me cut (with a scissors) and arrange flowers in a vase. I often use a heavy plastic vase (safer) and may put some pebbles on the bottom to help weigh it down first.

Then we place in the flowers, feeling the flowers, smelling them, and talking about what kind they are. Next we fill the vase with a watering can, which I help with.

Dad is able to see general large and small shapes, plus contrast in the lights and darks of the flowers, so that adds a little variety and helps him decide how to arrange them. 

Pets – Entertaining, holding, and petting a cat or dog can be satisfying and soothing activities for elderly with vision loss. Especially since many people had a pet and miss them. If you have a pet that needs attention, your older friend or family member may just be the solution. Elderly who are able to hear may also enjoy birds.

Personal Grooming – Believe it or not, sitting in a chair doing simple things like flossing teeth and filing fingernails with an emery board were very satisfying to Dad. He did both daily. And as you probably know, routine for elderly is very important. He’d also push back his cuticles and rub lotion on his hands. I showed him how to do a simple hand massage for himself (see our page with an easy hand reflexology chart, and why this can be so beneficial). Of course, you can also give him or her a hand massage yourself.

Easy Exercise – Some excellent activities for elderly involve movement and exercise. And they can learn to do it on their own. Dad was really into exercise and did his little routine every day a couple of times, including many movements in his chair. It was a healthy, kept him relatively limber and positive, and it was a satisfying way to use his time. We go into what he did in detail at exercises for the elderly.

We have so many more pages all around our web site that might be possibilities for you to modify and use as activities for elderly with vision loss (for instance, on our general Senior Activity Ideas page, with ideas for those who have fewer special needs) — but there are lots of ideas that can be changed around). So do take a look and see what you can find. The link below will take you to our main page with activities for elderly who may have more limitations.

It just takes a little imagination and patience. And believe me, your efforts will be so greatly appreciated.

Also check out ideas you could modify at Sizzling Summer Senior Activities — special unique dates and events, including things to do for them.

to Elderly Activities